I love the movie "The Wizard of Oz." There's just something so endearing about the characters and the story. One of my favorite characters is the Cowardly Lion. He's so concerned about not having courage, and yet he displays courage throughout the movie.
The Cowardly Lion made a mistake that our kids often make. He decided being courageous meant not being afraid. True courage means doing something even though you are afraid. It doesn't take a lot of courage for a child who loves to be the center of attention to stand up and give a speech to his class, but for the shy child, it takes a lot of courage to do the same task.
Sometimes, as parents, we discount how much courage it takes for our kids to do certain things. As adults, we think things like going to sleep in the dark or climbing a tall structure are easy, but for some kids those things take courage.
It takes courage to walk into a room full of kids who already seem to know each other. It takes courage to stand up for what you know is right. It takes courage to walk away from a situation that can get you into trouble. It takes courage to decide you want to do something that isn't "typical."
As parents, it's our role to bolster our kids and help them understand what courage is. We do that best by encouraging them. Note that the word encourage includes the word courage. Our kids won't learn to have courage unless they understand what it is, and they know that we are standing behind them to back them up.
- Talk with your kids about fear and how fear can sometimes be a good thing because it keeps us safe, but it can also keep us from doing what is right. Talk about how God commands us to be courageous. Share the story of the Israelites with your kids. Talk about how scared they must have been to leave everything they had known and to go to a new land.
- Remind your children that we don't have to be courageous on our own. God always goes with us. Deuteronomy 31:6 says "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- When you watch TV or movies, point out places where people are showing courage. Talk about how those people were probably afraid, but they did the right thing anyway.
- When your child faces a situation that requires courage, be their biggest champion. Pray with them and ask God for courage for your child.
- Do what the Wizard did in "The Wizard of Oz": Present your child with a "testimonial." Have a medal or a certificate that you present to your kids when they do something courageous. Celebrate their courage whether it's simply going to bed without the light on or standing up to a bully at school.
Courage is not the absence of fear, and our children need to know that. Some of the most courageous acts happen in the midst of the person doing them being scared witless. But, we can be courageous and face difficult situations because we know that God goes with us no matter what.